Violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act

Our careers might be a highly important part of our lives, but even the most career driven individual will be impacted by life outside of work. There are times when life will sneak up on us with something we are not prepared for and we will have to find a way to figure out how to handle the new scenario as best as we can. Sometimes we will be faced with something difficult like the serious illness of a spouse or a child. It could also be that we are faced with an illness that leaves us physically struggling and needing time to regain our health. And then, there are times when a newborn baby or adopted child comes into our lives and we need extra time to care for that new addition to our lives.

But what happens to your job if one of these events arises in your life? This will depend in part on the policy at your place of work, which might allow for certain family or health accommodations. But for others, their place of employment might not have a policy that allows for generous family leave time. However, most places of business are required to abide by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The FMLA provides protections to qualifying employees at many places of employment that allow those employees to take unpaid, but job protected time off in the event of certain medical or family scenarios. Importantly, the FMLA also requires that the employee may maintain his or her employment related health insurance during this time period.

What businesses are subject to the FMLA?

The FMLA applies to any place of business in the private sector that employees at least 50 individuals, for at least 20 workweeks in a year. Public and private elementary and secondary schools, and public agencies, whether local, federal or state, must comply no matter how many employees they have.

Which employees are protected by the FMLA?

For an employee to receive the protection and rights granted in the FMLA, the employee must work for an employer who is covered by the FMLA, must have worked for that employer for a minimum of 12 months, must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours for that employer during the 12 month period preceding the leave, and must work at a location where at least 50 employees work for the employer within a 75 mile radius.

How long of a leave can an eligible employee take?

The FMLA entitles employees to 12 workweeks of leave during a 12 month period.

What reasons qualify for leave under the FMLA?

The FMLA applies to serious medical and family leave scenarios. Some qualifying reasons include the addition of a child to the home, by the birth of a child, adoption of a child or placement of a foster child with the individual. The need to provide care for one’sspouse, child, or parent who is inflicted with a serious medical condition would also apply. If the employee is suffering from a serious medical condition that makes him or her unable to perform his or her job, that would be covered as well. Qualifying exigencies related to the employee’s son, daughter, spouse or parent being a member of the military on active duty or on call to covered active duty will be covered as well.

How are some ways in which an employer might violate the FMLA?

Employers who cancel employee health insurance policies while they are on leave under the FMLA, employers who harass employees while they are on their leave, and who discipline, terminate or demote employees for taking leave are in violation of FMLA.

Employers might not intend to violate the FMLA, but do so accidentally if they fail to recognize a serious health condition as such. Another problem that can arise is when an employee is disciplined for missing acertain number of days, but the employer does not investigate the reason for the absences, which happens to fall under the FMLA. Other times, employers have policies requiring employees to give a certain amount of notice in order to use their time off as leave under the FMLA, and the amount of time required exceeds the amount stated in the statute, or the employer fails to inform the employee of their rights under the FMLA.

What should you do if your employer is violating your rights under the FMLA?

If you believe your employer has violated your rights under the FMLA, you should contact an attorney to ensure the protection of your rights.

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At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you to find the best solution to your employment law related legal issues. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consolation with an experienced employment attorney.

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